• Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb)
    20 September – 11 November 2017

    The Showroom (63 Penfold St, Marylebone, London NW8 8PQ, UK) Curated by: What, How & for Whom/WHW, in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg, co-curated by Emily Pethick Preview: Tuesday 19 September, 6.30–8.30pm Exhibition opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 12–6pm The Showroom presents the epilogue of a long-term project which took place over several months in Zagreb (November 2016 to May 2017), which contextualised and rethought the Kontakt Art Collection. It was curated by What, How & for Whom/WHW in collaboration with Kathrin Rhomberg. This final exhibition is co-curated by The Showroom Director Emily Pethick. Taking selected works from the Vienna-based Kontakt Art Collection as its point of departure, including seminal pieces by some of the most prominent artists from Central, Eastern and South-East Europe since the 1960s, the exhibition stages an interplay between these and other historical, contemporary and newly produced works that interpret and critically examine the collection. The project unfolded in six episodes in Zagreb, each iteration influencing, contradicting and reinforcing each other. It took place in a number of smaller art spaces, artists' studios, private apartments and other locations related to artistic production and the broader cultural landscape of the city. This final stage of the project at The Showroom continues to reframe and expand the context of the collection. Interlacing geographically and poetically heterogeneous artist practices, the project attempts to punctuate standardized presentations and interpretations of works that have dominated international art circuits over the last few decades, with more disorderly and experimental arrangements. The project title is taken from a work by Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović (1947–2016), to whom the project is dedicated. Stilinović's life-long anti-systemic approach, his quiet but shrewd rebellion against social conventions and the conventions of art, and an artistic practice that trenchantly and humorously engages with complex themes of ideology, work, money, pain and poverty, inspired a generation of artists worldwide. The project is a cooperation with Kontakt Art Collection and is supported by Erste Group Bank AG and ERSTE Foundation.


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Oliver Ressler

Oliver Ressler’s projects deal with processes of democratization, analyzing them in filmic installations that refer to specific case studies. Concerning the over ten years of turmoil first evoked by such events as the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001 and the same year’s summit of the World Economic Forum in Salzburg, Ressler’s strategy has always been to apply scrutiny in the form of videos of and interviews with participants in the anti-globalization movement; results include the video "This is What Democracy Looks Like" (2002). Here, "The Sound of Music"—usually used to entice American visitors into taking tours through Salzburg during the summer—had to give way to the drumming sounds that accompanied the Robocop-uniformed police as they encircled and effectively trapped peaceful demonstrators for hours without letting them eat, drink or urinate.

Collaborative projects involving artists and political scientist Dario Azzellini have confronted the issue of civil disobedience in the context of the Italian anti-capitalist demonstration unit “Disobbedienti”; this group evolved out of “Tute Bianche,” an activist group whose members wore white overalls with padding in order to resist police forces and push through police lines, thereafter marching together in large blocks—as they did during the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. Here, the same old question posed by the American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau in his famous 1849 essay “Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience)” is still at issue: “Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man?”1

Another done work with Azzellini in 2006, “5 Factories – Worker Control in Venezuela", analyzed changes taking place in the manufacturing sector by interviewing workers in five different factories. The protagonists talked about alternative models of self-organization and increased control by workers as a result of the “Bolivarian Process,” which provided hope that modes and conditions of working would change. Ressler’s projects thus pose questions about the shifting parameters in both democratic and post-socialist societies: while these are undergoing processes of transformation, outcomes in terms of the development of the democratic condition per se remain unclear.





1 Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Resistance to Civil Government, edited by William Rossi, second edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992, p. 245.

Born in Knittelfeld, Austria, 1970.

Ressler studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna (Austria) from 1989 to 1995. He works as artist, curator, filmmaker, editor, and lecturer. Ressler often collaborates with other artists and scientists. In 2002 his video “This is what democracy looks like!” was awarded first prize of the “Internationalen Medienkunstpreis” by the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Germany).

Lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Solo Exhibitions (selected):

2016  "Who Throws Whom Overboard?”, SALT Galata, Istanbul, Turkey

2014 “Leave it in the Ground”, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Berlin; Germany

2012 “Nach der Krise ist vor der Krise”, Basis, Frankfurt/Main, Germany

2011 “Socialism Failed, Capitalism is Bankrupt. What comes Next?”, The Bunkier Sztuki Contemporary Art Gallery, Krakow, Poland

2010 “What Is Democracy?”, Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, UK

2009 “Što je demokracija?”, Siz Gallery, Rijeka, Croatia

2008 “For A Completely Different Climate”, Artra Gallery, Milan, Italy

2007 “Mucha vigilancia, mucho movimiento, mucha desconfianza”, Centro Fundación Telefónica, Documentation Center, Lima, Peru

2006 “Now-Time Venezuela, Part 1: Worker-Controlled Factories”, (with Dario Azzellini), Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, USA

2005 “An Ideal Society Creates Itself”, Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, Turkey

2004 “Economía alternativa, sociedades alternativas”, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, MediaLab, Madrid, Spain

2003 “Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies”, Galerija Skuc, Ljubljana, Slovenia

2002 “This is what democracy looks like!”, Plattform, Berlin, Germany

Group Exhibitions (selected):

2017 docuementa 14, Kassel, Germany 

2016 “Hors Pistes – L’art de la Révolte”, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France


2015 “Utopian Pulse – Flares in the Darkroom”, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany

2014 "Places of Transition", frei_raum Q21 exhibition space, Vienna, Austria

2013 “global aCtIVISm”, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany

2012 “It’s the Political Economy, Stupid”, Austrian Cultural Forum New York, New York City, USA

2011 “To Disobey at all Costs. Video and Demonstrations”, Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico

2010 “The politics of art”, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece

2009 "Rewind, Fast Forward – Videokunst aus der Sammlung der Neuen Galerie Graz von 1970 bis heute”, Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria

2008 “Disobedience – An ongoing video archive”, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany; HDLU, Zagreb, Croatia; Riga Art Space, Riga, Latvia

2007 “Suitcase Illuminated#5“, P74 Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Mac/Val – Musée d’art Contemporain du Val de Marne, Paris, France

2006 “The Shadow Cabinet”, De Appel, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

2005 “Making Things Public – Atmosphären der Demokratie”, ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany

2004 “The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere”, MASS MoCA Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, USA

2003 “Banquete”, Centre of Contemporary Art Palau de la Virreina of Barcelona, Spain; Conde Duque Cultural Centre, Madrid, Spain

2002 “Empire/State: Artists Engaging Globalization”, Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program Exhibition, New York City, USA

This bibliography provides a list of books available in the
ERSTE Foundation Library

Books/Exhibition Catalogues


Ressler, Oliver, Szylak, Aneta, eds. 2007. Oliver Ressler: Alternative Economics, alternative societies. Gdansk: Wyspa Institute of Art.


Ressler, Oliver. 2005. Alternative Economics, Alternative Societies. Frankfurt: Revolver [Exhib. Cat., Novi Sad Museum of Contemporary Art (May 24-Jun. 3, 2005), Belgrade Museum of Contemporary Art (Jun. 4-10, 2005)]



Other Media


Ressler, Oliver. 2004. This is what democracy looks like!: Disobbedienti (2002). Vienna: Arge index (Index DVD Edition; 015). 1 DVD (92 min.)

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